Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Education is Key to Success in Jails

As the new President of the American Jail Association, Alumnus Wayne Dicky continues to stress the importance of ongoing education for jail professionals.

“The education of leaders operating our nation’s jails is vital to our success,” said Dicky. “The American Jail Association has a long history of providing high quality educational programs to people working in jails.”

Dicky, who serves as jail administrator for the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, has actively pursued training and education opportunities throughout his 30-year career. As the head of the 3,800-member national organization, Dicky plans to dedicate his administration to new initiatives for reentry as well to reduce mortality in jail. As President of the Texas Jail Association in 2004, he oversaw regional training programs on suicide prevention, classification, and a Texas Commission on Jail Standards program called “The Basics,” which provided a review of the standards for jails.

“My overarching mission is education,” said Dicky. “Training is available on a broad array of topics to help operate safer jails.”

For reentry, Dicky said gone are the days of releasing inmates into the community with $200 and a bus ticket. Successful reintegration into society requires a good foundation, including mental health and medical care, housing, employment, transportation, and life skills. The first issue of American Jails during Dicky’s tenure is dedicated to the reentry of offenders with special needs, and the organization is offering several workshops on the topic.

Dicky also is concerned with suicides in jails and the toll it takes not only on the friends and family of the deceased, but also the trauma faced by officers and staff at the facility. The AJA is working with stakeholders and experts to identify factors that impact mortality rates in jails and strategies to reduce the number of fatalities in custody.

Dicky also serves as an instructor for the National Jail Leadership Command Academy, an organization co-sponsored by the AJA and the Correctional Management of Texas, that provides succession planning and the development of leadership skills for employees transitioning into senior level leadership. Dicky teaches a half-day course on fiscal management, jail budgets, and strategic planning.

Dicky credits education and training with helping him transform his jail from a linear, intermittent style of supervision to a direct supervision model. In 2010, Brazos County opened a new 1088-bed, dormitory-style jail where detention officers are posted in the units and provide direct supervision of inmates using behavior modification practices.

“For many years, I said I would never operate a direct supervision jail,” said Dicky. “As I saw more facilities adopt it, and I talked with more people about the benefits, I eventually came to the conclusion that it was a better way to operate a jail. It’s that kind of enlightenment you get from education. You learn from other people… The facility is now cleaner, quieter and safer.”

Following trainings at the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), where he earned credits toward a degree, Dicky was encouraged by staff to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University. The program helped him better understand the benefits of using evidence-based practices in jails. He credits Christie Davidson’s course on Correctional Strategies for shaping his national agenda on reentry.

“Wayne Dicky is an exemplary correctional professional and will do an outstanding job in his leadership position with the American Jail Association,” said Doug Dretke, Executive Director of CMIT. “He represents the very best with a sharp focus on professionalism and a passion towards improving correctional outcomes through reducing recidivism. CMIT has had the honor of working very closely with President Dicky with many of our CMIT programs and look forward to supporting him in his national role representing the thousands of jail professionals across our country.”

Dicky encourages jail personnel to join corrections organization and to seek leadership position in the field. Among the organization available are the AJA, the American Correctional Association, Texas Jail Association, American Probation and Parole Association, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve you—the corrections professionals from whom I have learned so much and whom I admire,” said Dicky. “The leaders of the AJA and those in our field have established a high standard for success and I am dedicated to meeting your expectations.”

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